What are some of the top green jobs of the future and the present? What are the highest paying environmental jobs? Keep reading to explore this list of environmental careers and learn what it takes to secure a challenging and cutting-edge job in the green economy. We will cover:

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Best Cities for Environmental Jobs

Jobs that help the environment are increasing nationwide, with some cities seeing higher demand than others. Those seeking careers as sustainability professionals will find there are many opportunities in both rural and urban areas. Whether you’re seeking a job as a scientist, engineer, or another role, the three locations below are the best cities for environmental jobs.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a well-known tech hub and it should come as no surprise that it is also a city with a great environmental science career outlook. With an increasingly green public transit system and plans to become zero-waste, job seekers will find many green jobs that pay well. These jobs can be found in areas like energy efficiency and clean technology.


The oil and gas industry in Houston continues to see an increase in the demand for green jobs. Environmental engineers, environmental specialists, and scientists will find a positive environmental science job outlook in the Houston area. Though salary will vary depending on job level and experience, many environmental careers in this area will pay over $80,000 annually.

New York City

As the most populated city in the U.S., New York City continues to see a growing demand for green jobs. Energy and environmental engineers are top green jobs in demand with the need to collect samples and data to analyze environmental impacts and improve energy efficiencies.

New York City is expected to see the number of green jobs in the future continue to grow.

7 Highest Paying Green Careers

Now you know which U.S. cities have the best opportunities for those seeking a career that champions our natural environment. But which green jobs are the highest paid or have the best career outlook? Here is our list of the 7 highest paid green jobs with up-to-date outlooks and salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

infographic showing the highest paying green careers


1. Environmental Engineer

Environmental Engineers improve public health by overseeing waste and pollution control policies. They routinely test air quality, water resources, and industrial equipment to ensure standards are met and maintained. Critical thinking, analysis, and communication are key skills that an environmental engineer should hold.

At a minimum, engineers should have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field as well as some work experience. Engineers that continue on to earn their masters or earn certifications often work in higher-level roles and may earn a higher salary. Engineers are just one example of the many environmental jobs that pay well.

2. Conservation Scientist

When considering careers that help the environment, conservation scientists should not be forgotten. They play an important role in managing forests, parks, and other resources. Conservation scientists spend much of their time out in the field monitoring forestry and conservation practices to ensure that workers and companies are compliant with regulations. They also establish forest management plans and assist in preventing and reducing forest fires.

A passion for nature and the outdoors is a must for this field. Conservation scientists may work for a variety of organizations but most often work for the local, state, or federal government. At least a bachelor’s degree is required for many conservation scientists or specialist jobs, most often in biology or forestry-related fields.

  • Occupational Outlook 2018-2028: 3%
  • Annual Median Salary: $61,340
  • Typical Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Conservation Biology

3. Urban Planner

Urban planners play an important role in communities both large and small. In short, urban planners create plans for land use, including infrastructures such as roads, power lines, and parks. Urban planners play a key role in population and community growth. They must possess strong communication skills as planners work with people at all levels, from residents to corporations to government agencies.

These busy workers often must work outside of business hours to accommodate meetings with neighborhoods and planning commissions. Urban planning is one of the top green careers in demand and is growing much faster than average. While those with a bachelor’s degree will find a junior or entry-level role in the field, a master’s degree is often required for urban planning roles.

4. Environmental Lawyer

With a focus on environmental rights, environmental lawyers represent the people, businesses, and the earth as a whole. This type of lawyer is one of the top-paying environmental jobs, however, it comes with many responsibilities. Most importantly they provide counsel to their clients for communicating how a change may impact people or wildlife. They often assess damages from events impacting the environment and gather evidence. Research and negotiation are just a couple of skills lawyers must possess.

After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring environmental lawyers must continue on to law school. Post law school, the bar exam is a requirement to become licensed in their state. It’s advisable for law students to take on internships or accept a position at a private practice. Many careers in environmental law require at least a few years of work experience.

5. Zoologists

Zoologists study animals in their habitats whether it be in captivity or in the wild. They observe the patterns of wildlife from diet to migration. Zoologists often spend time outdoors although quality time is also spent in an office or lab analyzing specimens and data. Patience and a love of animals are essential qualities possessed by a zoologist.

A bachelor’s degree is typically required for careers in zoology. Jobs in an area with high-level investigative and scientific work often require at least a master’s and in some cases a Ph.D. A zoologist salary is dependent on the level of experience, type of degree, and job location. In the U.S. the annual median salary is over $60,000. Those interested in pursuing a career as a Zoologist will find that this career has a job growth that is growing at an average pace.

  • Occupational Outlook 2018-2028: 5%
  • Annual Median Salary: $63,420
  • Typical Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Recommended Degree Program: B.S. in Wildlife Biology

6. Hydrologist

Hydrology is another of the many high-paying environmental jobs that are seeing an increase in demand. Hydrologists study the movement of water in addition to the overall water quality. They regularly evaluate chemical and temperature changes in bodies of water and routinely identify and test for pollutants. They play a key role in keeping our waterways clean and safe.

Hydrologists have many roles and responsibilities such as water testing, flow operations, overseeing educational and outreach programs, and data analysis. They spend quite a bit of time in the field, often having to wade into bodies of water to take samples.

Like many environmental careers, hydrologists should hold at least a bachelor’s degree, but many looking for a higher ranking role may consider pursuing a master’s. A few important statistics regarding the job outlook for hydrology are listed below.

7. Marine Biologist

A career in marine biology may be one of the best environmental jobs for those interested in analysis and public speaking. Both communication and great attention to detail are vital to the success of a marine biologist. Marine biologists work with public and private companies as well as government agencies. Depending on the specific role and skill level they may conduct field activities, work with large quantities of data, and propose new policies and procedures.

To be hired into a role in marine biology, a bachelor’s degree is necessary. Many bachelor’s programs are accepted such as biology, zoology, oceanography, and hydrology. It isn’t uncommon for professionals in this field to continue their education to earn a master’s. While the job demand isn’t as high as other fields, it is growing at a steady pace as you can see from the following data.

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Fastest Growing Green Careers

With the environmental science employment rate quickly increasing, the demand for green jobs is also growing. These are a few of the most in-demand environmental jobs.

Solar Photovoltaic Installers: 63% growth (2018-2028)

The job outlook for solar photovoltaic installers is expected to see a whopping 63% growth over the span of just ten years. Solar installers assemble and maintain solar panels on residential, commercial, and industrial properties.

Wind Turbine Service Technicians: 57% growth (2018-2028)

Wind Turbine Service Technicians is another career that is expected to see significant growth over the next decade. These technicians work mostly in the field installing and maintaining wind turbines that generate renewable energy.

Hazardous Materials Removal Workers: 11% growth (2018-2028)

With a positive job outlook, hazardous materials removal workers are in increasing demand. These workers identify and properly dispose of dangerous and toxic materials such as radioactive waste, lead, and asbestos.

Environmental Scientists: 8% growth (2018-2028)

With environmental science job growth thriving new environmental scientists will find the job market welcoming. These scientists monitor and protect the environment and the health of the people. They spend a portion of their time in the field conducting studies and the remainder in the lab analyzing test results and data.

infographic showing the projected growth for green jobs


Ready to start your career?

Now you know that opportunities are growing for environmentally-friendly jobs and that it’s entirely possible to make a comfortable living while promoting a healthy, clean environment.

Whether you want to improve old technologies such as oil and gas, work with solar panels or wind turbines, or study and monitor wildlife, it’s time to take the next step.

Learn more about how you can turn your passion into a career with a degree from Unity Environmental University. 

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